Husky Burnette,
Snake Oil Salvation
(independent, 2007)

The e-mail asking whether I might be interested in reviewing Husky Burnette's three-song EP Snake Oil Salvation included an mp3 attachment of the song "Shake That Thang." It's a distortion-filled, guitar- and harmonica-driven blues track that immediately caught my attention. Burnette's gruff vocals capture perfectly the raw sexuality of the sweaty strip club lyric, "As she's swinging, dancing on that floor, she can run all night, and you still want more ... Here she come now, with that same dress on, takes it all off for me now, shakin' it all night long. I love the way you shake that, shake that thang."

Unfortunately, the other two tracks on this release are near mirror images of "Shake That Thang" in terms of their production. And while each of the tracks, "Skinny Woman" and "Highway 41" being the others, holds up well enough on its own, with no range in evidence on the recording the initial impact that I felt is blunted by monotony.

"Skinny Woman" is the track with the most plays on Burnette's MySpace page, but I find Henry Moody's harp work here less interesting than what he brings to "Shake That Thang." On both tracks Moody keeps the harp line simple and direct but with a greater reliance on forceful high notes in "Skinny Woman," the repetitiveness of his accompaniment is more apparent. "Highway 41" does at least explore a new rhythmic pattern by working the 12-bars blues format. But the production, the guitar sound, the mix are all etched in stone.

Burnette's bio says he's "following in the family footsteps of rockabilly kings Johnny Burnette and Billy Burnette" and refers to the blues as a religion that Burnette is preaching. "You can feel the testimony as he blends Mississippi Delta guitar licks with Rock n Roll, Electric Blues and attitude." Hopefully before he releases the album slated for this fall, Husky Burnette will discover that the blues is more varied and subtle than Snake Oil Salvation manages to demonstrate.

review by
Gregg Thurlbeck

1 August 2009

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